Natural ingredient to ‘hide’ garden plants and ‘discourage’ pests

Gardeners' World: Monty Don explains why people should mulch

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Garden pests are active throughout the year though some wait to emerge until the temperature drops. Everything from tiny aphids and worms to larger mammals like squirrels and mice can all attack flavoursome plants, leaving your crops vulnerable to a host of unwanted visitors during autumn and winter. An expert at eco-conscious pest control brand, Green Protect has shared the best tips to ‘discourage’ vertebrates and other creatures from feasting on your plants.

Sophie Thorogood from Green Protect said: “There are many different pests that can ruin your fruit, vegetables and other plants you may be growing, from squirrels that will dig up plants and seeds, to aphids sucking out necessary plant juices.”

Borders, raised beds and even potted plants are vulnerable to pests at this time of year, even when they go dormant and stop growing during winter.

While there are several ways to protect your garden from unwanted visitors, Sophie noted that mulching is the most effective remedy.

How to use mulch to deter pests

Mulches are loose coverings of material placed on the surface of the soil.

According to Sophie, this is best used to deter larger mammals from pots and raised beds but it can be used almost anywhere in the garden.

She said: “For vertebrates such as squirrels, mice and rats, we recommend mulching your raised bed with hay, bark or straw to hide fresh soil and to avoid these pests digging up bulbs and plants.

“Mulching will also discourage insect pests such as beetles and moths.”

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Place your chosen materials in small layers on the soil surface of the affected plant beds or pots.

A thickness of between 8-15cm is plenty to protect your crops.

For larger beds, layer the mulch in neat rows between plants to maximise the impact.

According to an expert at Gardening Know How, you should make sure to keep the straw away from the leaves and stems of the plants, as it may spread fungus to your garden crops.

In addition to mulching new, or growing crops, Sophie noted the importance of removing old plants.

She said: “Mice and rats are always on the lookout for an easy source of food.

“Make sure to pick up and pull out any fruits, vegetables and plants that have reached the end of their fruiting to remove a potential food source for these pests.

“Picking up fruit and pulling out plants will also ensure there is minimal rotting vegetables and fruit material that will attract pest insects and discourage plant diseases.”

Mulching plants is not only ideal for deterring pests but also for keeping them safe from harsh winter weather.

Sophie explained that the straw and bark materials act as a “physical barrier” from harsh winds, heavy rain and frost.

Even if you don’t have a noticeable issue with pests, mulching is worthwhile to reduce plants which may otherwise be killed in autumn and winter.

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